Many Names and Guises
B2MeM Challenge: Names
"In the hour of birth, or on some other occasion of moment, the mother might give a name to her child, indicating some dominant feature of its nature as perceived by her, or some foresight of its special fate."
Characters: Aragorn, Arwen, Eldarion
Summary: Eldarion is puzzled why his father has so many names.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
"Merry and I miss you, Strider, as does Sam. We hope we can come and visit you soon, affectionately yours, Pippin." Aragorn finished reading the letter and placed it on the table by the side of his plate. "It is good to hear from Pippin that all is well with him and with the Shire," he said.
"I would not be surprised if he marries that Mistress Diamond he speaks so highly of ere the year is out," said Arwen.
"It is hard to imagine young Pippin being wed," Aragorn replied.
Eldarion, who had been listening in silence, suddenly spoke. "Ada, why does Uncle Pippin call you 'Strider'?" he asked.
"It was the name he first knew me by," said Aragorn.
"But why were you called 'Strider' and why is it our name in Quenya?" Eldarion persisted. "And how do you come to have so many names when I only have one! It's not fair. Naneth calls you 'Estel' and the people call you 'King Elessar' and Uncle Pippin calls you 'Strider' and Elbeth does sometimes too. Did your Naneth give you lots of names?" He eyed Arwen accusingly.
"I have many names because I have had lots of adventures, Eldarion," Aragorn explained patiently. I took 'Elessar' as my throne name as it was given to me by the people because of green gem I wear, and which I was wearing the night Gandalf asked me to help the sick here in the City." He touched the green stone that he wore upon his breast as he spoke.
"Was that when you cured Uncle Faramir, Aunt Éowyn and Uncle Merry?" Eldarion asked.
"Yes, and it was the first time I had used the stone to help me cure the Black Breath," Aragorn explained. "Then Uncle Pippin greeted me as 'Strider' when I arrived at the Houses of Healing. I then decided I should be called King Elessar Telcontar, if my kingship came to pass, so as not to forget the Ranger I once was."
"But what did your Naneth call you?" Eldarion persisted.
"My mother, your grandmother, Gilraen, just gave me one name, 'Aragorn' when I was born. She and my father chose the name together for me. All the chieftains of the Dúnedain had names beginning with 'Ar' as that means 'royal'. I would have been happy to keep that one name all my days, but it was not to be."
"Why not?" the little boy asked. "I'm still Eldarion!"
"You are blessed to live in more peaceful times, ion nîn," said Aragorn. "Long may you bear the name that your Naneth and I chose for you! Alas, I cannot remember my father at all. When I was only two years old, he was killed and I went with my mother to live with your grandfather, Master Elrond, at Rivendell. He was worried that the Enemy might hurt me and gave me the name, 'Estel' to disguise me. I had only just found out my name was really 'Aragorn' when I met your Naneth and Grandfather Elrond was still calling me 'Estel' which is why your Naneth calls me by that name."
"It sounds very confusing!" said Eldarion. "You have too many names, Ada; can you give some back?"
Aragorn laughed. "I fear it gets worse, ion nîn! Soon after I learned my true name, I went back to my people to take up my duties as their Chieftain. They were careful only to use my real name in private and I gained all manner of nicknames that the Rangers used when strangers were within earshot. Just outside the Shire is a town called 'Bree'. The folk there used to call me 'Strider' or 'Longshanks' when I visited the inn there. I am much taller than they are and walk with longer strides and it amused them."
"But everyone tells me it is rude to remark on how people look," said Eldarion.
"It is, ion nîn, but the folk of Bree thought the Rangers were dangerous vagabonds. They did not know that were protecting them from all manner of dangers," Aragorn explained. "The name 'Strider' amused my cousin, Halbarad, and it became the nickname, I was known by throughout the northern lands. I introduced myself to Uncle Pippin as 'Strider' when I first met him, though I told him my true name too."
"I'd like to be known as 'Runner' when I grow up and become a Ranger," said Eldarion. "I can run really fast."
"I know you can," said Aragorn. "Rangers need to notice everything around them, though, and move very quietly. You cannot do that if you run everywhere."
"Oh." Eldarion sounded crestfallen.
"Sometimes Rangers do have to run though," Aragorn added. "Uncle Éomer named me 'Wingfoot' when I first met him. I had been running across the plains of Rohan for days to try to rescue the Hobbits. He thought 'Strider' too poor a name! I was not always 'Strider' on my travels, though. When I was still a young man, Gandalf thought it would be a good idea if I travelled to Rohan and Gondor and became a soldier to learn more about the world. I had to choose what name I would be known by and chose 'Thorongil'. That means the 'Eagle of the Star'. I chose the name to honour Grandfather Arathorn, Grandmother Gilraen and the star shaped brooch that all Rangers wear."
"I've heard of Thorongil's great deeds!" Eldarion said proudly. "You were Gondor's best ever captain!"
"Tales often become exaggerated in the telling," said Aragorn. "Gondor has had many great captains. I have had many other names too. When I travelled in Harad I called myself…."
"Estel, it is way past Eldarion's bedtime!" Arwen interrupted. "That tale must wait for another day."
" Ada, which is your favourite of all your names?" Eldarion asked as he mother prepared to lead him to the nursery.
"Can you not guess, ion nîn?"
Eldarion shook his head.
Aragorn smiled and hugged the child. "Why, it is 'Ada' of course!"
Aragorn's first visit to Harad is described in my story "The Gift of Tongues" on this site
Wtiger has also written a most enjoyable story on this theme, which you can read here too.
Posted in honour of Aragorn's birthday.